My TW day

I’ve paused the Decalogue posts, but I will resume them. In the meantime:

It was TW day on Friday. My first TW day that I was paying attention to; I’ve been on Quora since August 2015, and I wasn’t attuned enough to the community last time round.

I’ve said some stuff about me not getting TW on this day, in Who deserved to get “Top Writer 2017,” but was not named in the January announcement?

I’m not going to say anything about the choices or methodology or manner of announcement of TW over at The Insurgency. I’ve already said plenty in Nick Nicholas’ answer to Why do some Quorans reject the Top Writer title? Besides, I’m now not impartial.

But you know, even my Who deserved to get “Top Writer 2017” answer isn’t quite sappy enough. So I’m going to post some reflections on my TW day.

My TW day started with me checking my notifications, as I do every morning, and finding a dozen under Edits.

That’s odd, I thought. I don’t make that many typos.

Hang on. I’m subscribed to the TW 2017 questions. That must mean…

… scan scan scan…

… that I didn’t get it.


Yeah, I knew that was a possibility, but it still smarted. I was downcast for maybe an hour.

So who did get it?

… scan scan scan…

Harrumph. I didn’t get it, and they did.

That… was an unworthy thought. The they, after all, is a friend. The harrumph was because they’d teased me about seeking a TW.

But no, I’m not going to succumb to that kind of adversarial thinking.

And the notion that popped into my head, all of a sudden, was Evangelicals saying that “Dissension is of The Enemy”.

No, I don’t believe in Satan. Odd I know, since Robert Todd has taken to calling me “Old Nick”. I do believe though, uncontroversially, that bad thoughts, including resentment and dissension, of are the worst part of our natures. And I shall not let The Enemy make me despise those that I love. That is beneath me.

(Why no, I did not mean Quora Inc. by “The Enemy”. Whatever gave you that notion?)

So I put aside my harrumph. They’re a good poster, and they earned that quill.

And then Audrey Ackerman got the quill. And I smiled, and I congratulated her.

And then Dimitra Triantafyllidou got the quill. And I beamed. I honest to God beamed.

You know, I bantered to someone a few months ago that the only outcome worse than me getting the quill and Michael Masiello not getting it, would be if Michael got it and I didn’t get it. 🙂 We’re brothers, and it would be a horror if the quill separated us.

But I neglected that Dimitra is my sister as much as Michael is my brother. (She hasn’t been as visible lately, because of her studies.) And no, the quill doesn’t separate us. I’m pleased to have found it. Her recognition is all of our recognition.

Same goes for all the other TWs I already count as my friends; it’s just that I rank Michael and Dimitra that one step ahead as friends.

Same goes for Audrey, for that matter. Her success in the linguists’ posse is Zeibura’s and Clarissa’s and mine too. And Neeraj’s and Steve’s and Brian’s for that matter. Because we’re a team.

Later in the day, a bunch of people, in comments and posts and PMs, said that I should have gotten TW, and some TWs even said that my loss tarnished their gain.

Shut up, Some TWs. Thank you, but shut up. This was your day, and I want nothing to detract from it. I share in your joy. Without reservation.

The rest of the day, I spent curating the answer wiki at Who are the new, first-time Top Writers named in January 2017, and what should we know about them? And reassuring a few of my peers who were also upset at not making TW.

I hate it that The Enemy has spread discontent, on what is supposed to be a day of celebration of good community. (I don’t think that’s just The Enemy’s doing; but this is not a The Insurgency post.) I don’t want my peers to get hung up on a quill. Like I said to one of my peers (and I’m expurgating the salty language):

Write because you love to write, not because someone gave you an award.

And write because they love to write: that’s what my peers do.

Congratulations, once again, to all January’s TW recipients. And to all non-recipients who are also, in the appreciation of their peers, Top Writers.

Why do so many people on Quora write dozens of long paragraphs to answer a question when 2 or 3 sentences would be just as adequate?

The OP, the Founders of Quora, and several respondents appear to live in a world where questions have 2 sentence answers, and where answers are what you come to Quora for.

Myself, I go to Google for that. The Founders of Quora seem to have intended for Quora to replace Google as a source of all 2 sentence knowledge; and I am not disappointed that this vision has floundered.

At any rate, I live in a world and I write in topics where there are no simple 2 sentence answers. And I don’t come to Quora for answers anyway. I come to Quora for discussion, and to learn. And there are limits to what I can truly learn from a 2 sentence answer.

YMMV, of course.

Why are Greek people so warm and friendly?

For the converse of Nick Nicholas’ answer to Why are Norwegians so cold and unapproachable?

Positive Politeness vs Negative Politeness.

What say you Wikipedia?

  • Negative politeness: Making a request less infringing, such as “If you don’t mind…” or “If it isn’t too much trouble…”; respects a person’s right to act freely. In other words, deference. There is a greater use of indirect speech acts.
  • Positive politeness: Seeks to establish a positive relationship between parties; respects a person’s need to be liked and understood.

Negative politeness, which is the norm in Northern Europe, is all about respecting people’s space—literally and figuratively. Which is why Southern Europeans think they’re a bunch of emotionless drones.

Positive politeness, which is the norm in Southern Europe, is all about eliminating space between people—literally and figuratively. Which is why Northern Europeans think they’re a bunch of obnoxious psychos.

Who is the most impressive youngster on Quora?

There are several people on Quora that are under 20, that I enjoy following, and learning from. From my “I love youse all” series (Opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr In Exile), I have already identified:

They write with the voice of youth; yet they also write compellingly. I don’t “love youse all” trivially.

But for most impressive: I am going to mention two people on Quora that I had no idea are under 20, for months, and was astonished to find out that they are.

That is pretty damn impressive. They are in fact impressive whether or not they are under 20.

They are not bribing me to say this.

What’s your MBTI personality type?

You know, I did the 16personalities test online the other day, to see what all the fuss is about.

I still don’t get what all the fuss is about. I feel like I’d like someone to read my coffee cup and look over my palm, and tell me what it’s supposed to mean.


  • 64% Introverted 35% Extroverted
  • 65% Observant 35% Intuitive
  • 57% Thinking 43% Feeling
  • 94% Prospecting 6% Judging
  • 56% Turbulent 44% Assertive.

Looks pretty marginal to me. Except that I hate planning, apparently.

I dunno. Can anyone that knows me tell me if this makes sense?

What is your opinion on the system that Quora uses to name Top Writers? Is it fair? Should it be changed to a vote?

I hesitated to answer this, because I’m not disinterested. But…

… *shrug* Nick shall be Nick. That’s more important. To me, anyway.

Scarcity + lack of transparency is a recipe for disgruntlement in any system of awards. The scarcity is inevitable, even desirable. But though I see some arguments for lack of transparency, I see many more against. Same as with the refusal to publish a list of TWs officially; given that the unofficial lists aren’t being suppressed, I just don’t understand why (and the arguments offered in the related question don’t convince me).

Objective and visible criteria (or at least thresholds) would mitigate any disgruntlement about awards. Maybe not remove it, but mitigate it. They don’t have to be based on popularity; but if a user doesn’t visibly score on expertise, popularity, breadth, extensive answers, or community engagement, then people are left scratching their heads. And any resulting disgruntlement is least fair on those awardees: their award shouldn’t be allowed to be tarnished.

It would be nice if we had an indication of TWs needing to meet one or more publicly visible thresholds, including follower count, Most Viewed Writer count, answer count, edit count, reports count, external expertise, view count, upvote count. It would be nice if we had an explicit note that this award goes to this person, because they have been a good contributor, and you can all see how. It’s not like that information isn’t public (apart from the reports count).

Celebrities like Tim Kaine should not get TW for being celebrities (and boy, does that pick look bad in retrospect). TW should be about community participation, not about “ooh, we got a celebrity to join a one-off Session!” It undermines the perception of a level playing field; it looks vanity press.

Quora Staff getting TW… well, that’s been discussed already. I understand the dogfooding argument, and I also agree that it comes across as vanity press (the presumption of community participation does not necessarily apply to Quora Staff). The underlying assumption by users is that TW rewards only community participation, and that assumption is not an irrational one.

I agree that Quora should have some discretion about awards, and I can be persuaded that some awards should be used to motivate engagement rather than to award past performance. It’s a tough gig, and I don’t envy it.

But it generates a lot of unnecessary angst, as I described in My TW day by Nick Nicholas on Opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr In Exile. I’ve talked with several upset users since, and I’d like for there to be less of that angst.

Is there a word for “time travel” using Greek or Latin parts of speech?

The Modern Greek for “time travel” is the unimaginative calque Ταξίδι στο χρόνο (“travel in time”). It does indeed use the chronos word; but taxidi is a mediaeval word which now means “travel, journey” (originally, it was “expedition”). Star Trek was originally rendered in Greek as Ταξίδι στα Άστρα “Journey to the Stars”.

For a more classical word for “travel, journey”, I’d pick πορεία (which also has the connotation of expedition), which would make time travel chronoporia.

But Alberto Yagos is right that the –naut stem is the more usual one for exploration, and we don’t have any English words ending in –poria (or –pory). Chrononautica is a little too… Latinate? Indirect? Chrononaucy would be the normal Anglicisation (via French) of chrononautia, though it looks just odd, as we have no other -naucy words; so maybe chrononautia.

EDIT: Achilleas Vortselas is right: -nautia is too close to nausea. Make it chrononautilia.